For Rodgers-led Packers, Expectations Suitably High

The Packers begin to plot their 2017 course with Sunday's opener, and expectations are high after two "almosts" in three seasons.  

Where are we going? Boil down the hype and concerns for the upcoming season and what’s left is suffuse with that fundamental question. For two of the last three seasons, the Packers knocked on the door of a Super Bowl berth but were bested by teams that seemingly had the right stuff to take down the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady-led Patriots. 
 
So, where are the 2017 Packers going? 
 
Anything short of a deep postseason would run contrary to expectations. There’s last year’s remarkable [near] run of the table after a 4-6 start, sure, and there’s also the fact that Green Bay is tied with New England for the longest active consecutive postseason streak. With Aaron Rodgers under center, the Packers have been in the playoffs every year but his first as starter. 
 
Even with that high standard has being set, no one will tell you it’s enough—including Packers players and coaches. The stakes, we’d like to believe, are always high but the truth is sustaining success is rare. Even rarer is having a generational talent like Rodgers in the prime of his career. When you have a player like Rodgers, at the game’s most important position, there becomes an expectation for championships. Close doesn’t cut it. 
 
The Packers winning it all this season plays out most likely with Rodgers as the focal point, with the defense potentially taking a step forward to ease the process. But for now, there are questions on both sides of the ball for which the Packers must find answers if they’re to take the most advantageous path. 
 
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers has more overall speed at his disposal than perhaps at any time during his tenure. That starts, and mostly ends, with the defensive backs. There’s the return to good health from corners Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, the drafting of Kevin King and Josh Jones, the ascendance of Kentrell Brice and the redefining of Morgan Burnett’s role as a rover playing closer to the line of scrimmage. 
 
At linebacker it’s a similar, if more muted story. What the Packers may potentially lose in production from Julius Peppers and Datone Jones they won’t lose with respect to speed. If anything, the additions of Ahmad Brooks and Chris Odom leave the Pack faster at edge rusher. They also signal, and this is including Jayrone Elliott being traded to Dallas for a conditional pick, that there was insufficient talent at the position. 
 
If a cavalcade of injuries besets the team this season, much like how cornerback was ravaged a season ago, the Packers should hope it’s not at linebacker. The other prized possession is the team’s starting front line. The danger here is that a unit that’s undoubtedly among Green Bay’s greatest strengths is potentially a few injuries from becoming a weakness. 
 
There are enough skill players to ascend to greater heights once paired with Rodgers, and this year’s bunch is worth the excitement. Jordy Nelson might have been really good anywhere but he’s great with Rodgers. Davante Adams has millions of reasons to try to improve upon his breakout third season. Martellus Bennett and a legitimate tight end trio gives Rodgers and Mike McCarthy as many or more options than they’ve had since they won a Super Bowl. Ty Montgomery, if he’s able to sustain even a portion of his success at running back, gives the team a tough runner to back it all up. 
 
Green Bay appears to have all the furnishings of a championship-caliber team. The effect is pouring gasoline on the same offseason fire that burns each season when we ask: Where are we going? 
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Comments (14)

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PatrickGB's picture

September 04, 2017 at 05:43 pm

I predict a slow or even rough start to the season. It's going to take a while for the offense to mesh with new players. But by mid season the offense will pick up speed. I can't believe I am writing this but the defense will do well out of the gate. I am not sure about home field in the playoffs but I believe Aaron will have us in the mix all the way to the end.

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Bearmeat's picture

September 04, 2017 at 06:59 pm

With all respect, there are no championship caliber teams in September. Those are made in January and February. This team could grow into a championship contender, but there are certainly concerns: OLB, backup OL, RB, youth at CB - and the biggest luckmaker of them all: injuries.

If the OL and OLBs stay healthy, this team could (should) make a deep postseason run, and Lombardi #5 is certainly a possibility. Assuming somewhat stable health, I personally will be very disappointed with anything less than another NFC CG appearance. Of course we all know what we all WANT here. lol.

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Free agent's picture

September 04, 2017 at 06:07 pm

According to NBC sports Bay Area, Niners DT Quentin Dial was scheduled to visit with Packers today. The four-year veteran appeared in 46 games with 49ers

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rodgersrules's picture

September 04, 2017 at 06:41 pm

Very interested to see how Odom pans out. Reading the commentary from the Atlanta writers, they were shocked that he wasn't on the 53. Might be a key pickup.

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PatrickGB's picture

September 04, 2017 at 07:16 pm

For many years it's been all about Aaron Rogers. And rightly so. He is great. But this year I see hope from the defense. FAs like Odom, Brooks, RJF and House will help the defense more than hoping the draft picks "develop". Just holding the opponent to one less touchdown a game may be the deciding factor this year.

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Denise Chanterelle's picture

September 04, 2017 at 09:21 pm

Super Bowl berth and victorious in that game. That's where we're going this season. Let's bring the Lombardi Trophy home to GB where it belongs. We can do this!

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croatpackfan's picture

September 05, 2017 at 03:36 am

That's the spirit!

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pacman's picture

September 04, 2017 at 09:27 pm

Here we go again. Another season with Rodgers is another season of SB or bust.

I read somewhere recently that Cobbs was drinking 100oz of water a day and he said his muscles don't get sore anymore. Will someone please mention this to CM3 and the entire team so maybe we can avoid muscle tightness and pulls. Don't the trainers know this???? That should be the only thing keeping us out of the SB - yet again.

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Rossonero's picture

September 04, 2017 at 10:15 pm

We don't need to be perfect in September. We do, however, need to make enough plays to win. All the best teams eke out a few wins. By December, those 1 or 2 wins will be the difference between home field advantage and being on the road.

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GBPDAN1's picture

September 05, 2017 at 03:02 am

A big key to this season is having minimal injuries (obviously). It all starts with the OL. We were fortunate last year that the OL was relatively healthy. Pack must have the same luck this year as the backup OL is terrible at this point. Unlike last year, when Tretter filled in for Lindsey, the Pack just doesn't have the luxury of quality OL depth.

I'm disappointed that Ted hasn't found other depth players at the OL position after cut downs. Hopefully something works out because losing a starter, especially OT, for a long period of time this year will be devastating. I heard Perry and Matthews are back at practice, which is great news. But no Bulaga yet. Hope he can go for the opener!!

Here's to Bulaga, Bak, Perry, Mathews and Brooks (and of course Rodgers) staying healthy this year. If this happens, the Pack will return to the NFC championship game again.

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porupack's picture

September 05, 2017 at 03:17 am

I think TT is going "all-in" this year, albeit still with a prudent cost management approach, and not mortgaging the future.

TT placed high premium on veterans able to contribute in 2017 vs keeping developmental upside players on the team. He kept only QBs, WRs and TEs that would contribute in 2017. Premium on vets at OLB, ILB.
Brought in FA vets at OLB, DL, TE, CB who would start or be heavily used in rotation.
Where he kept rooks are at CB, RB; picks that would contribute in 2017.
I've criticized TT before, but kudos to TT who did about everything possible to make this year a success.
Of course not perfect, but he went 'all in' without mortgaging the future. Can't say same ole Ted after this year.

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packrulz's picture

September 05, 2017 at 06:02 am

OT Eric Winston (Bengals) got cut, maybe sign him to back up at tackle? They have to protect Rogers, I don't want to see him getting hit.

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flackcatcher's picture

September 05, 2017 at 07:42 am

Packers pretty far down on the waiver list, lots of teams above them need a tackle who can pro pass protect. Still, sounds like cap issue.

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Handsback's picture

September 05, 2017 at 08:36 am

Green Bay owned the 60s, won a SB in the 90s and 2010s. They have made the playoffs every year since 4th graders have been in school. Green Bay is the only team to win three NFL championships in a row. So yes the fans and the team have the mentality of SB or bust and why not? They have the best QB in the league, an offense that on paper has the ability to scare every defensive coordinator into becoming a college coach, and finally a defense that is solid with playmakers at all levels.

Also I have seen people ask why and how TT has changed this year verses previous years in bringing in talent. I think the answer to that question is very complex and don't think for a minute it's because he sees this team as close to a SB and wanted to go all in. I have my guess just like everyone else but I don't believe he's changed his MOO.

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